Best of Machu Picchu & Cusco Vacation for Families: Culture, Ruins & Exploration

A 8 day trip to Peru 
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Your custom tailored family vacation to Machu Picchu and Cusco brings the whole family to splendor, set in the celebration of ancient civilizations and the thrill of discovering vibrant culture. The traditions of the Andes radiate across the plateaus and rolling hillsides of Peru. Enjoy private family tours of ruins of Inca temples and fortresses decorate the landscape. Large terraces climb the mountains. Colorful textiles illuminate creativity and artisan detail with soft fabrics to create elaborate wares. When the family arrives in Peru, the contemporary world of Lima fades behind the allure of the historic streets of Cusco. 

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General Information

Photos
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Lima, Cusco, Sacred Valley, Urubamba, Ollantaytambo, Moray, Maras, Aguas Calientes, Machu Picchu, Pisac

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Seaside Fun

Lima is a city that encapsulates the various cultures of Peru, set in the hills and beaches bordering the diverse neighborhoods. The modernity of Lima has a vibrant energy, coursing through the boulevards underneath the remnants of Spanish colonization. Wooden balconies decorate buildings. Baroque architecture flourishes in the embellishments of cathedrals and decorative fountains in the heart of a plaza. When you arrive at the airport, your private transfer is waiting to take your family to your comfortable accommodation located in the trendy seaside neighborhood of Miraflores. The aroma of Peruvian roasted chicken drifts out of hidden local restaurants. Fresh ceviche has bright citrus flavors, situated in the counter restaurants of the Central Market.

When you reach Miraflores, you find a neighborhood situated on the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Contemporary buildings shimmer in the sunlight and reflect the image of the water in their windows. Historical colonial homes intersperse the modern feel of the neighborhood, with greenery adding a more embracing atmosphere. In the heart of Miraflores, you can find a pyramid-shaped temple belonging to a coastal civilization with roots dating back to 200 AD. The kids marvel at the view of the water and the pyramid, finding the new culture of Peru exciting, and this is only the beginning. 

What’s Included: transfer, accommodation

Day 2: Climbing into the Andes

In the morning, your private transfer escorts you to the airport for your flight to Cusco. The atmosphere is thinner, standing at an elevation of 11,200 feet above sea level. The Andes is the world’s longest mountain range, spanning 4,300 miles, and climbing to a height of 13,000 feet. The mountain range ventures through seven separate South American countries. Your transfer meets you at the Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport and takes you into the countryside known as the Sacred Valley, home to the heart of Andean and Inca culture.

The elevation subsides to between approximately 8,000 to 9,000 feet above sea level. The landscape is lush, with sweeping greenery rushing along the hills and ending near the top of the rugged mountain peaks. The aroma of fresh grass fills the crisp, cool air. Your guide leads you to the Center for Traditional Textiles, where local Andean women demonstrate the importance of the intricate art, from the traditions the work maintains to the culture it alludes to.

The center was established in 1996, with the goal of preserving and reviving the Peruvian Inca textile trade. The traditions date back more than two millennia, passed on from generation to generation by watching and practicing. The kids immediately notice how soft the garments are. You can’t help but notice the variety in colors and design, finding red and black stripes, and even blankets decorated with tiny llamas. You continue through the Sacred Valley, and settle into the comforts of your hotel, in the encompassing greenery of the mountains. 

What’s Included: breakfast, lunch, dinner, transfer, tour, accommodation

Day 3: Wonders of Water

In the morning, the aroma of fresh Peruvian coffee lingers in the air. The taste is almost chocolatey when you sip your cup. The kids are enthusiastic about river rafting, and soon your transfer meets you at the hotel, ready to take you to the banks of the Urubamba River. The excursion is part adventure, part cultural and historical tours of the valley. You reach the raft and find the current calm along the riverbanks. The Urubamba River flows for more than 449 miles before combining with the Tambo River. When you set out on the water, your guide tells everyone to paddle. The kids are practically glowing with smiles, eager for adventure.

The water spritzes into the air and lands on your cheeks with refreshing vigor. Upper Urubamba has a system of irrigation, with the ruins dating back to the ancient times. When the water begins to speed up, you can hear the rapids before you see them. The kids cry out in delight. The raft urges forward. Your guide tells you all to paddle once again. The rapids lift the raft left and right, shifting your position against small boulders and the arching riverbanks. The rocky banks lead into towering foothills. When the rapids calm, the kids cheer. You can’t help but notice the pure beauty emanating from the valley.

What’s Included: breakfast, lunch, dinner, tour, accommodation

Day 4: Signatures of the Valley

In the morning, the sunlight washes over the valley, bringing the greenery to an emerald sheen. After breakfast, your private transfer whisks you away from the hotel and into the foothills to visit the exceptional towns along the mountainside. The allure of Moray is its stunning design, captivating Peruvians and visitors form worlds away for centuries. The intrigue lies in the numerous and impressive symmetrical circular terraces decorating the landscape. The scene resembles a large amphitheater carved into the greenery. The formation is actually a complex network of flat terraces forming two separate bowls.

Stone stairs climb up and down the terrace walls. The kids marvel at the sheer size of the terraces. The perfect symmetry of the circles is something akin to wonder. The true unique quality of the terraces is not as much in the structure as in the varying degrees of temperatures from the top terrace to the bottom, creating microclimates of up to 59 degrees Fahrenheit. Your guide explains that the Inca brought different soils from around the empire to help create the differential to yield different crops from the Andean region. You notice the kids’ interest in the active history surrounding them.

What’s Included: breakfast, lunch, dinner, tour, accommodation

Day 5: Inside Machu Picchu

In the morning, you savor the warm touch of your coffee cup to your hands, noticing the pristine blue sky cast over the mountainside. The family is eager to take the train to Machu Picchu, sitting under the glass dome of the celebrated train ride to Aguas Calientes. The Urubamba River winds around the valley floor. The mountainous landscape gives way to a lush cloud forest. Orchids blossom on the higher branches with vivacious purple and red petals.

You venture from the train station in Aguas Calientes to the gates of Machu Picchu, walking along the path to the historic stone stairwell, opening up to the terraces of the legendary city among the clouds. The site stands almost 1,000 above the Urubamba River, cast in the dramatic setting on a plateau with Huaynu Picchu rising in the background. Clouds drift below you. The rich stones of the city standout from the manicured grasses and encircling jungle covered mountains. Your guide leads you through the Sacred Plaza, atop the stairs overlooking the ceremonial baths and opposite the old quarry.

The square has a curved wall, demarcating a viewing platform looking out to the snowcapped peak of Cordillera Vilcabamba. There is a sense of accomplishment when you reach the city, from seeing the Sun Gate at the edge of the Inca Trail in the distance to encircling the Intihuatana, the “Hitching Post of the Sun, ” which predicted solstices and lengthening days. The kids are enthralled with the sense of history that feels so ancient to everyone, dating back to the 15th-century.

What’s Included: breakfast, lunch, dinner, tour, accommodation

Day 6: Discovering the Colonial

After breakfast, you wave goodbye to your hotel in the Sacred Valley and explore the town of Pisac and a local Camelids Center, which raises llamas and alpacas. In the afternoon, you settle into Cusco and follow your guide through the cobblestone streets of a city overflowing with colonial buildings and rich with Andean culture. The central market houses rows of produce; the aroma of freshly made chicken soup lingers in the air. The city has roots dating back to the 12th-century and is the oldest continually inhabited city in the Americas.

In the narrow streets, you find remaining Inca Walls, creating the ambiance of an outdoor museum, such as along the streets of Loret and Hatunrumiyoc, leading to the Plaza de Armas. Your guide points out the 12-sided stone in the wall on Hatunrumiyoc. The church of Santo Domingo was built over the ruins of the Coricancha, the Incan Temple of the Sun. The old walls were lined with gold sheets and decorated with a golden disc reflecting the sunlight and illuminating the temple.

Today the church is reminiscent of the Spanish colonization, with solid stonework, atop a large platform raising the church above the surrounding descending streets. The kids point to the curved wall made of stone, standing 20 feet tall, beneath the west end of the church. It remains a great example of Incan masonry. The trapezoidal doorways, perfected by the Inca, allowed the building to move during an earthquake, especially due to the fact that the Inca did not use mortar to reinforce their stonework.

What’s Included: breakfast, lunch, tour, transfer, accommodation

Day 7: Drama of the Fortress

When the morning light casts over the city, the stones of Sacsayhuaman fortress loom over the landscape. The site has been occupied since the 10th-century but the Inca erected the fortress in the 13th-century. The stones used can weigh more than 120 tons, with the largest stones weighing up to 440 tons. The Inca used weight and intricate carvings to place the stones together like puzzle pieces. Your guide shows you how thin the space is between each stone by trying to stick a blade of grass into the cracks. The fortified complex has defensive walls extending almost 1,000 feet, zigzagging across the plateau like puma teeth. The kids love the fact they can walk along the site, stepping over the various tiers and examining the stones.

Your guide points out another trapezoidal doorframe leading to the upper tier with a view to the city below. Even more so, your guide points out a smooth stone slide that leads down the hillside into the open square. The kids quickly volunteer to be the first to ride down the granite. After your exploration of the fortress, the remainder of the day is at your leisure to enjoy the wonders of Cusco at your preferred speed, from the charm of the Plaza de Armas to the trendy cafes and lovely rooftop view of Plaza San Blas.

What’s Included: breakfast, dinner, tour, accommodation

Day 8: Last View of the Andes

In the morning, the light brushes the colorful homes climbing along the hillsides encircling Cusco. The aroma of fresh Peruvian coffee blends with the slightly bitter aroma of coca tea. The 16th-century cathedral crowns the Plaza de Armas with a three-aisled nave and Renaissance interior with 14 large supporting pillars. The cream colored walls of the buildings stand out against the lush grass and rolling hills surrounding the city. After breakfast, your private transfer meets you in the hotel lobby and escorts the family to Cusco International Airport for your flight home. You have ventured along mountains and down rivers, into ancient cities and mysterious wonders for a great family adventure.

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer

Price

Starting Price 

$1,755
This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.